- Engineering Building III (EB3) 3290
Dr. Grace joined the faculty at NC State in 2016 after spending four years as an Assistant Professor at the University of Miami. While completing his PhD at the University of Oklahoma, he worked full-time at nearby Tinker Air Force Base for five years as an aerospace engineer and was a graduate of the USAF Palace Acquire Program. Dr. Grace’s research focuses on composite material response to detrimental environments, with an emphasis on temperature extremes, polymer-penetrant interactions, and combined hygrothermal and mechanical loading. This work is heavily multi-disciplinary; Dr. Grace collaborates extensively with researchers in the medical field, as well as mechanical, aerospace, biomedical, and materials engineering. Dr. Grace has pioneered the use of X-band dielectric analysis in polymer composites to characterize material state and track in situ damage initiation and evolution. Dr. Grace was the recipient of the National Science Foundation’s CAREER Award for this work in 2018.
University of Oklahoma
University of Oklahoma
University of Missouri
Dr. Grace's research focuses on how materials respond to adverse conditions, either in the form of environmental loads (moisture, thermal, chemical, etc.), mechanical loads (impact, fatigue, etc.), or, most often and most representative of in-service conditions, the concurrent application of several of these factors. The materials we use every day are rarely in the same condition as they were when new - materials evolve. That evolution is a function of their operating conditions and environment. This is true for composites (materials made up of two distinct phases) used in the aerospace industry, in civil infrastructure, and even in the human body. The way a composite interacts with its environment determines its response; how its properties change over time, how and when damage is initiated, the rate at which it progresses, and the timing and nature of its eventual failure. Our goal is to understand these complex interactions and mechanisms so that we can apply them toward predicting and preventing failure in everything from a composite aircraft structure to the composite tissue at the back of the eye (lamina cribrosa) that plays a role in the development of glaucoma and space-associated neuro-ocular syndrome (SANS). We apply a number of experimental and computational techniques to achieve these goals, and focus heavily on experimental validation of computational predictions. A unique focus in our lab is the use of a split-post dielectric resonance technique in the GHz frequency range to shed light on the behavior of molecular water within a material. The interaction of absorbed molecular water, even at concentrations of less than 0.5% by weight, has the potential to provide a wealth of information on the chemical and physical evolution of the material in the very early stages of damage.
Honors and Awards
- National Science Foundation CAREER Award, 2018
- University Faculty Scholar (University of Miami), 2014
- USAF Palace Acquire Program Graduate, 2010
- CAREER: High-frequency dielectric response and the dynamic role of water in polymer composite mechanics
- National Science Foundation (NSF)(5/01/18 - 4/30/23)